9 April 2020
Over nine days, from 28 March to 5 April 2020, 289 students from various student organisations joined Temasek Foundation at Westgate mall for the distribution of free hand sanitisers to Singapore households.
Organising unit, Office of Student Affairs (OSA) also rallied colleagues from Office of Facilities Management (OFM), Office of Estate Development (OED) and Conferences & Event Management Unit (CEU) to answer the call to service. 18 staff supported the event.
Hyzue Gimin, OSA Project Coordinator of the #BYOBclean hand sanitiser collection exercise revealed his challenges: “I found it most difficult to allay concerns on the ground as there were more and more uncertainties and news of the evolving situation, including the surge in imported cases. Words like ‘unprecedented’ and ‘crisis’ dominated my discussions with our partners and the planning team. As the day of event drew nearer, my team and I were still deliberating whether we have done enough to protect our student and staff volunteers.”
Perhaps his concerns were unfounded.
Hyzue knew that the volunteers’ safety was of utmost importance. 30 students from the “Seeds of Good Programme” were appointed as “Leaders of the day” (LOTD) to brief all volunteers before, during and after their shift. LOTD outlined expectations such as mandatory temperature taking and travel declarations. They also went through a table-top exercise on various customer service scenarios, took notes and posed difficult questions to one another. During the process, they built up a comprehensive safety procedure briefing sheet for all volunteers.
On site, before the start of their shift, volunteers familiarised themselves with the operations by observing others. Wang Kai Qi, Year 4 Life Science undergraduate and Captain of the NUS Women’s Volleyball Varsity Team first heard about this volunteering opportunity from her OSA sports manager. She confessed: “My mum wasn’t keen on me volunteering due to the increased exposure with people. I also asked some of my friends but they kindly rejected for the same reasons, which was understandable given the situation.”
Aung Naing Tun, Computing freshman, born in Myanmar and now a new citizen of Singapore, also echoed Kai Qi’s views. He said: “My family and friends were initially taken aback that volunteering activities were still ongoing during this period. However, they were understanding and also supportive after finding out that this will go towards the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.”
Fortunately, Kai Qi’s mother was put at ease when she saw for herself how the event was organised.
Kai Qi added candidly: “If everyone only wanted to collect sanitisers but nobody wants to distribute, then nobody will get their sanitisers!”
Yang Yuze, Year 1 Engineering student and her teammates from Public Health Interest Group were actively looking for an area in public health to contribute towards and OSA linked them up to this opportunity. She commented: "Our volunteers were all very receptive and eager to contribute. This definitely made our job scope of managing the volunteering and operations much easier."
Here are some photos of our NUS volunteers in action:
No sink? No problem! NUSSU volunteers practised good hand hygiene at the registration counters. They ensured those who came to collect their sanitisers had clean hands before they approach the collection counters.
All collection counters were set up to abide by safe distancing measures. Residents also complied with all safety precautions and turned up in an orderly fashion.
Volunteers affixing a special informational label which included the seven-step ‘how to use’ instructions on the empty recycled containers that residents brought to the collection counter.
Bring Your Own Bottle or #BYOB means that residents must bring their own clean bottles so that our student volunteers can fill up 500ml of sanitiser solution into the bottles.
Weekend afterhours: CEU colleagues joined in this meaningful activity amid their busy schedule of allocating students who need to serve their SHN on campus.
Through this experience, Naing Tun realised that not only this volunteering experience stood out from his past projects as it did not target the less privileged group. He volunteered because he wanted to put himself in the shoes of others. He said: “It was a generous initiative which served the well-being of regular citizens, which to me was an excellent display of community spirit.”
Kai Qi chimed in: “I wished I could do more, but I guess this is my way of contributing back to the community in times like this. I’m not in healthcare or any of the other frontline positions but I guess as a student, if I can help make the things a little better by small actions such as filling 500ml of sanitiser solution, then it’s worth it!”
“In the end, compassion and good planning triumphed our uneasiness,” observed Hyzue.
Indeed, our collective efforts did not go unnoticed. One local baker was touched by our actions so much so that she surprised us by delivering freshly baked cupboards to our offices.
Now, that’s #SGUnited.
@theonewherejobakes warmed our hearts and our bellies with her bakes.